- The Knesset is elected every four years but may dissolve itself and call for new elections before the end of its term. Elections to the Knesset are general, nationwide, direct, equal, secret, and proportional. The entire country is a single constituency. According to the Basic Law: The Knesset (1958), every citizen is eligible to vote from age 18, provided the courts have not deprived the individual of this right by law, and to be elected from age 21. Prior to elections, each political party presents its list of candidates and its platform. There is no rule regarding the way candidates are to be chosen and the order in which they are to be presented in each list because this is the sole prerogative of the parties or the groups submitting the list. Some parties make use of an organizing committee, while others select candidates in the party centers or in the branches. In some instances, the person at the head of the list decides who should follow him on the list and in what order, while in other cases, secret elections are held beforehand with the participation of all the members of the group or party in question. In recent years, a number of parties have chosen their electoral lists through primary elections. Several parties also now reserve slots on their electoral slates for women, representatives of immigrant (see ALIYA) communities, and other special interest constituencies.Parties represented in the outgoing Knesset are automatically eligible to stand for reelection. Additional parties may stand for election, provided they obtain the requisite number of signatures of eligible voters and deposit a bond, which is refunded if they succeed in receiving at least 2 percent of the popular vote, the threshold a party must pass for taking a seat in the Knesset. A treasury allocation for each Knesset member is granted to each party represented in the outgoing Knesset in order to wage their election campaign. New parties receive a similar allocation retroactively for each Knesset member they actually elect. The state comptroller reviews the disbursement of all campaign expenditures. The president, state comptroller, judges, and other senior public officials, as well as the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces and other high-ranking army officers, are disqualified from presenting their candidacy for the Knesset unless they have resigned their positions by a specified date (100 days) prior to the elections.The Central Elections Committee, headed by a justice of the Supreme Court and including representatives of the parties holding seats in the Knesset, is responsible for conducting the elections. Arab member of the Knesset (MK) Ahmed Tibi, leader of Ta'al (Arab Movement for Change), was initially barred by the Central Elections Committee from participating in the election to the 16th Knesset (2003), along with MK Azmi Bishara and his National Democratic Alliance (Balad), due to their respective platforms, which allegedly negated the existence of the Jewish state or its democratic character. In both cases, the disqualifications were overturned on appeal to the Supreme Court of Israel.On election day, each voter casts a ballot for one party—its list of candidates and its platform as a whole, having been presented prior to the election. Knesset seats are assigned in proportion to each party's percentage of the total national vote. Knesset seats are allocated according to the sequence in which the candidates appear on their respective party lists. Ever since the establishment of Israel, a large number of small parties have received representation in the Knesset, thus ensuring the representation of a wide spectrum of political views.
Historical Dictionary of Israel. Bernard Reich David H. Goldberg. Edited by Jon Woronoff..
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